The very nice folks at Deepwood recently invited me and a group of my readers to attend their first beer dinner (thanks guys!). I had three diverse readers - PJ, Josie, and Bethia - join me for an evening of beer drinking and eating great food.
I started the evening off with one of Deepwood's signature cocktails, Gin & Juice. I love to order anything called gin and juice, but when it's gin and watermelon juice, I'm totally in. YUM.
The group for the dinner commandeered almost the entire restaurant, and we were grouped in lots of large and small tables. Our educators for the evening were Deepwood sous chef and beer enthusiast Colin Vent, who designed the menu, and Bob Gera, a Rogue rep who gave us a little history and information on each beer.
First up, we had a little bite of house-cured gravlax, salmon cured in hops with a few microgreens and a Parmesan crisp; the matching beer was Juniper Ale, and the two paired really well. The salmon was very well executed; the texture was like buttered silk, and the cure on the salmon was great. The salmon brough out an almost floral character in the beer:
Next, my favorite course of the evening, Honey - Quail Braised Quail with Gingered beets, cider vinegar Reduction. The quail was rich and sweet, and my only complaint about the beets is that there weren't enough of them - a feeling agreed-upon by all in our group. The presentation looks simple, but it was incredibly flavorful. We all laughed at how quails look like little people on the plate - mine kind of looks as though he's about to do the Radio City kick line thing. I ate every bite, even though I usually sacrifice half of my quail to Husband because I get tired of the tedium of eating their tiny little legs, but this time I did my best. There were two beers with this: Smoke ale and Old Crustacean Barleywine. Both beers were a great match, but I thought the Smoke ale made a very interesting match; it paired reallly well with the rich and sweet quail. I have a feeling it will be great in some chili or braised pork something or other:
Third, we had an eel "sandwich" on a naan-like bread with Hibiscus BBQ sauce, braised red cabbage, onion ring, and stuffed squash blossom. Reactions were mixed on this dish. While we all agreed the onion ring, squash blossom, and cumin & fennel flavored cabbage were delightful, I think I'll stick with Japanese eel preparations (I'm sorry Colin, I hope you don't hate me as much as all the chefs in my restaurant do). I commented at the bravery of the chef to select a stuffed squash blossom as a garnish, because they can be a pain to stuff and prepare, so I was thrilled to see it on my plate. I do believe that is the first squash blossom I've seen in a restaurant in Columbus, and I love them, so kudos. The beer here was the Morimoto Black Soba Ale, which everyone at the table really loved. I have never purchcased this beer because it's kind of threatening, but I really enjoyed it, and it went really well with the dish. I was surprised at how well it paired with the cabbage:
Next up, we had bison! Very nicely marinated in coffee and slow-poached in olive oil until it was perfectly, and I mean perfectly, cooked throuout, it remained nice and meaty. Frequently olive oil poaching, when done incorrectly, can lead to mushy meat, but this was perfect. Also present was Valdeon (a piquant blue cheese) polenta. Well, as Chef chef knows, polenta is the way to my heart, so that was a delight - again, very well executed with a nice custardy, but still pleasantlly "gritty," texture. As a garnish, a tiny cluster of currants had been dipped in sugar syrup and placed on the plate. A fun garnish, which I hope everyone at least tried. I plan to steal this. Currants are notoriously tart, but the candy finish made them tart & sweet at the same time. Again, I love currants, and you never see them on dishes in Columbus, so this was another pleasant surprise. The beer here was Imperial Stout, a surprisingly light-bodied yet full-flavored stout which had nice, food-friendly acidity:
Cheese! Chimay, a nice almost Meunster-like soft cheese which is rich and nutty. You might recognize the name of this cheese from it's dangerous monk-made beer partner, Chimay beer. There was also a Goat Cheese fritter, and Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue, an Oregon blue cheese which is slowly cold-smoked over hazelnut shells; this cheese is really, really good - filled with pleasant crunchiness and a strong but not acidic blueness. It was only appropriate, what with it being smoked with hazelnut shells, that it would be served with Hazelnut Brown ale. This was my favorite beer of the evening. The aroma was pure hazelnut and the beer was smooth and round. I think it would be perfect for my pounda pounda pounda cake (flourless chocolate cake with ground hazelnuts):
Lastly, a mildly hot and smokey chipotle ale along with surprisingly hot habanero pate de fruits, an intriguing and tasty smokey caramel mousse (put that on the regular menu) and yummy adobo truffles, topped with crunchy salt.
The dinner was great; I was very full at the end. The pacing was nice and the pours of the beers - important since some of them have over 9% alcohol - were large enough to enjoy throughout the courses without being so heavy that we were inebriated at the end of the dinner. Of course, you could purchase extra beer if the pairings weren't enough. All beers were available for retail price, around $4 - $20, beers in various sizes. This dinner was a great value (I thought) at $65 a person, and I would definitely go again.
Thanks Amber, Catherine, Colin & Brian!! It was great!